As a Canadian, and as someone who likes a fast-paced action-packed game, I gotta say I’ve always had a soft spot for the Sport of Hockey.
And very few sports, if any, translate well to virtually any media like Hockey does. I remember listening to Hockey Night in Canada on CBC Radio when I was a kid, and honestly no other sports show even came close.
It’s a great game to play, I even organized my home town’s first ever ( and probably the only ever ) street hockey league when I was about 11. Which consisted of 4 teams from four local streets, that would play most of our games in the parking lot of a virtually abandoned Orthodox Church. At 11 I was actually quite proud of that accomplishment.
It’s a great game to listen to, a great game to go see in person, if it has one failing at all it’s in television coverage. It doesn’t have that up-close-n’-personal air about it that you get from a televised Baseball or Football game, because of the all the breaks that allow them to add trivia, personal commentary, do a lot of slow-mo replays…hockey, quite honestly, is too fast for that. There isn’t a lot of time to throw in close-ups, trivia, etc…unless you want to miss half the action.
Remember the absurd FOX ‘ blue puck ‘. FOX thought the game was so fast that when they began to broadcast games in the US to US Audiences they thought Americans wouldn’t be able to follow a black puck on white ice unless they made the puck blue and even showed blue lines to where it came from, like a comet’s tail.
Sure, one of the rubs against hockey has always been it’s fighting, it’s enforcers, it’s intimidation squads, general violence…but really, has it ever been that much more violent than a typical soccer game, or a boxing match, etc…? In many cases it’s less violent. I’ve seen some Baseball games that would make Hockey look like a day at the Happy Park.
But violence is not what has kept hockey from being the major force it should be in American Media. The two main reasons hockey has had to fight for and make major concessions to get US exposure on major US Networks are:
1. Even though it’s always had more American teams than Canadian ones ..it’s not American…the NHL is not perceived to be anything but a Canadian Sports System. So it’ll always be considered, to an extent, second-class to MLB, NFL, and even the NBA ( despite that Basketball was invented by a Canadian, it was invented, by him, while working in the US ).
2. Money. Let’s face it, if you have a good seller on your counter and someone comes in with something that might do equally as good if given the opportunity, and sufficient promotion, would you be inclined to remove your ‘ proven ‘ seller that requires nothing more than it’s presence on your shelf for a product that, with some initiative on your part, might prove to be as good of a seller?
So I do understand why the US Media has never been ga-ga over Hockey, and from their perspective, they’re probably right.